On May 18th 2011 in a historic visit to Dublin Castle, Queen Elizabeth II, in a magnanimous show of respect for the Irish language addressed the gathering with “A Uachtaráin, agus a chairde”.
Five days later on May 23rd in College Green, US President Barack Obama in addressing thousands of citizens of this state, courteously paid due regard to our native tongue when he said: “Is féidir linn”.
It was a pity, but not surprising, that in November 2014 the Stormont Assembly MLA from East Derry Gregory Campbell, aligned himself, not with the considered all-embracing sentiments of Queen Elizabeth II and President Obama and civilised society generally, but with the bile and bitterness of those who have fomented an anti-Irish agenda over the past number of decades by referring to the Irish language as ‘toilet paper’.
Indeed, the former first minister and DUP leader Peter Robinson disparagingly called the Irish language ‘Leprechaun speak’.
Despite world admiration and acknowledgement of the achievements of Ireland’s Protestant artistic, cultural and literary traditions, traditions which over the centuries gave us, among many others, Berkeley, Burke, Swift, Yeats, Tone and the first President of Ireland, Dr Douglas Hyde, it appears the philistines and curmudgeons of unionism are still unwilling or unable to cross the tribal divide.
This fine Protestant tradition should not be allowed to be defined by culturally impotent and ignorant unionism.
Tom Cooper, Cathaoirleach